|The lavender fields of France|
Having indulged in a delicious wood fire pizza each last night we decided a pre-breakfast walk up the steep cobbled pathways to the chateau at the top of Montbrun-les-Bains was a good idea before tucking into the breakfast of rustic breads with local honey and homemade organic jams. The slightly quirky chambre d'hôtes with its odd plumbing, dated tiling and no wifi was charming and very relaxing. I've certainly never come across an outdoor sensor light in a bathroom before and it was rather funny that I was too short to set it off, but I still managed to find my way around without any issues. Our drive out of town took us to the north of Mont Ventoux where there were more lavender fields and quiet, empty roads. The views of the mountains were no less breathtaking from this direction and the air was heavily scented. We weren't quite the only thing on the roads as we passed a rock plough/road cleaner vehicle who was ensuring the road was swept of fallen rock debris, not something we see around our way. Our winding roads took us through the Drome, the Haute Vaucluse and Provence Alps Côte d'Azur all before morning coffee. There were also a few cyclists out, but nowhere near as many as we saw in Malaucène when we stopped for coffee. It must be the first town in France I've been to where the bike hire shops outnumber the cafés, boulangeries and hairdressers. We saw cyclists of all ages, shapes and sizes, kitted up in Lycra and riding all styles of bikes up and down the high street. I'm assuming they were warming up and were all about to set off up Ventoux, rather than just posing in town.
|Goat cheese and olive fougasse|
A few years ago on a previous tour, we began our tradition of indulging in a daily patisserie. This year as well as the patissiere and the local cheeses we are buying for our lunch, we have been adding a bottle of local wine to take home too. We are hoping to have quite a collection by the time we return home. Somehow yesterday and today, an extra treat of an olive fougasse ended up being bought and enjoyed, but thankfully (for my waistline) I don't suppose that will continue as we head away from the olive groves of the south. By lunchtime we had crossed the Rhone and stopped for a picnic on a shady bench overlooking a lake, where the clank of pétanque balls competed with the bird song. For us it will always be known as lovers lake as the bench next to ours was occupied by a couple far more interested in each other than their lunch. As they sat, their bodies inclined towards each other, she touched his face as they chatted, he stroked her thigh, their eyes locked and they laughed. When their lunchtime was up, their goodbyes were sad and drawn out before they got in their cars and left separately, their illicit rendezvous over, until next time.
Once we were west of Orange and back in the Gard we found more lavender fields and these were noticeably bluer than the last ones - yippee! We were also on roads much easier to stop on so I finally got the pictures I was after. The temperature was in the high thirties and we were soon climbing back into the forests where the hot air was scented with pine and herbs and the scenery was craggy and rocky. We spent a fun afternoon twisting, turning, climbing and descending before arriving in the Lozère department and being welcomed to the Cevennes national park by a herd of cows whose bells gently chimed as they slowly moved their heads. The small valley town of Meyrueis was just as we had remembered it from our visit in 2012. We parked the car in the same spot outside the same hotel before having a beer on the balcony and booking a table in the same restaurant we had eaten in last time. Despite the set menu seeming rather familiar it was a very different dining experience as in April 2012 we ate in the cosy indoor dining room, but this time our table was on the terrace overlooking the river. The trout from the river that runs through town was just as delicious as I remember it.
Tomorrow we will be heading west to Rocamadour for our final night.
This post has been linked to Paulita's Dreaming of France blog link up. To read more posts about France, click here.